The two women who were found “unresponsive” at a store in San Antonio, Saipan, in December were shot to death, according to a press release from the CNMI Department of Public Safety.

Dr. Rachel Lange confirmed the cause of death was due to a gunshot on both victims, ruling their deaths homicide, the release stated.

The bodies of Ria Na Lim, 43, and Lim Hua Choi, 53, were found in Rice Cake Best Food restaurant in San Antonio on the morning of Dec. 13, 2019.

“The bodies of the victims will be released back to the family, pending their arrival back on the island,” officials stated.

Dr. Lange also noted that the cause of death for the yet to be identified man whose body was found near Bird Island, Marpi, on Nov. 25, 2019, was classified as “undetermined” due to the advanced state of decomposition. The medical examiner did indicate that the victim had a fractured clavicle and several fractured rib bones on his right side, which are injuries consistent with a fall.

It was also indicated that the victim’s body was in the water for some time, officials stated. The identity of the victim is still unknown as there are no missing person reports and no dental or medical records available to be compared to. An X-ray of the victim’s teeth and DNA have been documented, should any records be shared for comparison in the future, officials stated. 

Like Guam, Saipan has had a difficult time recruiting a medical examiner. Dr. Aurelio Espinola, who was Guam’s chief medical examiner for decades, often assisted Saipan. He retired last year.

Guam Attorney General Leevin Camacho had said Guam may try pooling resources together with Saipan to attract a full-time chief medical examiner who would service the islands of the Marianas. Currently, Guam has contracts with forensic pathologists in Hawaii who fly to Guam to perform autopsies as needed. 

Saipan’s attorney general was able to finalize a contract with Dr. Rachel Lange, who performed the three autopsies on Jan. 14. Dr. Lange, who flew in from Hawaii, has been a medical examiner for 10 years, and previously conducted her practice in New York.

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